Best - worst cockpits

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by AL Schlageter, Oct 12, 2007.

  1. AL Schlageter

    AL Schlageter Banned

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    I have seen lots of 'best' and 'worst' airplane threads but have not seen one on fighter cockpits.

    There is no question that the bubble (ie. P-47D, P-51D, Spitfire XVI) and 360 degree view canopies (ie. Fw190, Yaks, A6M) were better than the canopies on the razorbacks (ie. P-47B, P-51B, Spitfire IX, Me109) for vision.

    But, canopies are only one part of a cockpit. What also must be considered is instrument layout, ease of using the controls and reaching switches, the pilot's seating position and 'elbow' room and any others you can think of that should be considered.

    How would you rank the cockpits of the the major fighter airplanes from best to worst?

    ps. Seems to have gone in the wrong section. Could a Mod please move to the correct section. Thanks.
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I think you're OK in this section....

    I think the thing to look at for fighter cockpits was visibility and comfort. For the most part designers placed instruments in places that were well thought out and were usually dictated by a customer or design specification. For example attitude instruments are usually in the center of the instrument panel - engine instruments are usually to the right or bottom of the panel and usually close to the fuel shut off valves. Power controls are usually on the left console, switches and circuit breakers are usually on the right console.
     
  3. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    The Bf 109 has to be a contender for the worst.

    Cramped, narrow, poor visibilty and with that overturned bathtub for a canopy. Never got a bubble either.

    The Fw 190 was said to be one of the best. The P-47 cockpit was big!
     
  4. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    I havn't seen the inside of many Axis cockpits, but I have seen the inside
    of a bf109. It's got to rank up there with the worst....

    Charles
     
  5. luftwaffemesserschmitt

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    it has to be said the messerschmitt 262 had a very very good sight alround
     
  6. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    The P-38 cockpit was awfully cold at altitude!

    ,
     
  7. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I've been in cockpits of a lot of WWII and Korea vintage fighters and would say the same general rule of thumb applies.

    American cockpits large and roomy, German/Brit and Russian - not. Having said that, the feel of a Spitfire cockpit is like having a custom tailored suit - no free space but comfortable nevertheless. I first sat in a MiG 15 when it came to Eglin AFB when I was 8 years old and THAT was a near perfect fit! Smaller than a Spit or 109 from memory..

    I don't have any real negative comments about any of them except that the rear vision is less for the non bubble canopy (Duh) but the Malcolm hood version of the 51 had pretty good rear view. The Mig 15 and F-86 had the best vision of all. The P-38 seemed to have best view to rear and above, the worst to rear side and below... the booms were a real distrction but the cockpit visibility was great from the very first model onward.

    As to instrument layout, as Joe said, the fundamental layout is usually purchaser directed and very similar from one ship to another. It would seem only an issue when switching from one country to another.

    My father remarked that he had to 'label' several instruments on the 109 and 190D that he flew after the war because they were in different locations - but after the first couple of flights the labels weren't important..
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Like reading a book - after a while you know where the table of contents and index are located....;)
     
  9. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    What I've g;eaned over the years is the American cockpits were the best laid out as for instrumentation and the Brits were the worst . Many pilots stated the Brits built the aircraft and where the pilot sat and instrumentaion was an afterthought. In one case they swapped the PTT for the firing switch on the Vampire in mid production.

    Not to be outdone in Canada they put the compass behind the control column on the CF100 they rectified this by bending the control column
     
  10. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Worst has to be the Swordfish. Open cockpit, Russian Convoy, minus god knows what windchill, freezing spray and the USA complained about the P38, poor dears.
     
  11. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I think the P-38 got a bad rap because many of it's pilots had no other twin engine time and didn't understand how a twin engine cockpit should be configured.
     
  12. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    I think some pilots didnt like the control wheel setup either.

    I've heard that the B29 instrument panel was OK..... limited room meant only the most important instruments were to be seen by the pilot, and the rest went to the co-pilot or flight engineer.
     
  13. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Anything in the NA/Baltic in winter rain would be terrible.. but a P-38, unpressurized at 30,000 feet over Europe in winter would be no picnic at 40-60 below F either..
     
  14. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    What about Me 163? That was one tiny plane.
     
  15. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    According to the Joint Fighter Conference in 1944, for US fighters the best all around cockpit was the F6F5, worst was P38L, best engine controls was P51D, best gear and flap controls was F6F5, best cockpit canopy was P47D, most comfortable cockpit was P47D, best all around visibility was P51D.
     
  16. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    A cockpit is much more then a heater or defroster it's the placing of controls and instruments in logical locations , having your airspeed indicator on the opposite side of the cockpit from the turn and bank with the altimeter at the bottom .When you are in inclement weather or trying to recover from an odd attitude you want your instruments in one area so you can give them a quick glance and know what is occuring not scattered all over the control panel .
     
  17. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    I liked my C-141 cockpit. All those wonderful buttons, gages and instruments!

    True airspeed indicator
    Drift meter
    Ground speed indicator
    weather radar
    2 UHFs
    2 VHFs
    2 HFs
    2 VORs
    2 Tacans
    2 ADFs (4 heads)
    Loran
    Dead reckoning computor
    Doppler computer
    Navigator (this is drawback)

    For flight planning, if weather looked bad, add 40k lbs fuel. That will take you half way across the US. Surely you can find somewhere to land.

    Get tired? Get up, kick the copilot to make sure he is awake. Check the fuel panel to make sure there is plenty of fuel and all the switches are set right (it doesn't matter if the Flight Engineer is awake). Ask the Navigator if he has any idea where we are and if not (most likely), do we have a 50-50 chance of getting through the ADIZ without an interception by a guard F-106. If not, have him get you up 30 minutes before ADIZ so you can correct all your navigators errors. Glance at Horizontal Situation Indicator. Is there "W" somewhere around the lubber line? If so, all is well, Rack out in crew bunk.

    And everybody says there is no challenge to flying a cargo plane!
     
  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    A very prejudiced report - P-51 best engine controls??? The P-38s were in the same place except there were 2!!! Again, single engine pilots who were never trained properly on twins....
     
  19. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    you forgot the most important one autopilot
     
  20. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    both the 109 and Spit are to small for anyone of size in my personal opinion after sitting in both . Made for pygmies
     
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